We have often sung the hymn “My hope is built on nothing less than Jesus’ blood and righteousness”. But what do we understand by the word ‘hope’?
To my mind, there are two types of hope which I would class as ‘uncertain hope’ and ‘certain hope’. Uncertain hope seems to be little more than wishful thinking. Examples of this type of hope would be a mother saying “I hope it doesn’t rain on Saturday for my daughter’s wedding”. There is no guarantee that it won’t rain. Or a Year 12 student saying, “I hope I get into university next year”. Several factors can impact the outcome of this hope including the student’s results or the availability of Uni places, or maybe scholarships offered. The outcome of such hopes always has an element of doubt or a question mark attached to it. Various factors can influence the issue.
However, ‘certain hope’ is that which can be possessed by a true Christian believer. Christian hope is when God has promised that something is going to happen and you put your trust in that promise. Christian hope is a confidence that something will come to pass because God said that it will.
Christianity stands on three great pillars – faith, hope, and love (1 Cor 13:13). For a lot of people to-day, hope appears to be the weakest of these three pillars.
The opposite of hope is hopelessness or despair and these things permeate our world. The Psalmist was well aware of this when he wrote: “Why are you downcast, O my soul? Why so disquieted or disturbed within me? Put your hope in God” (Ps 42:5).
Hope should distinguish real Christianity from the world or what the world has to offer, and born again Christians from unregenerate mankind. In Ephesians 2: 12&13, we read: “Remember that at that time you were separate from Christ, excluded from citizenship in Israel and foreigners to the covenants of promise, without hope and without God in the world. But now in Christ Jesus, you who were once far away have been brought near through the blood of Christ.” Christ’s atoning sacrifice for us has turned our hopeless estate into one of glorious hope and confidence.
What are some of the certain hopes that the believer has in Christ and how does scripture give us this assurance?
THE HOPE OF ETERNAL LIFE
In writing to Titus, Paul spoke of the “hope of eternal life, which God, who does not lie, promised before the beginning of time” (Titus 1:2). Only in Christianity is there such a promise of glorious life beyond the grave. The hope of eternal life is very important, and even if we Christians have hope only in this life, Paul tells us that we are of all men most miserable (1 Cor 15:19).
THE HOPE OF A BODILY RESURRECTION
The Living Bible translates Romans 8:11 as “If the Spirit of God, who raised up Jesus from the dead, lives in you, He will make your dying bodies live again after you die, by means of this same Holy Spirit living in you”. In writing to the Corinthians, Paul speaks about a grain of wheat being sown and dying only to come to life again. He says, “So also is the resurrection of the dead. It is sown in corruption; it is raised in incorruption. it is sown in dishonor; it is raised in glory; it is sown in weakness; it is raised in power; it is sown a natural body; it is raised a spiritual body”. And we know that that resurrected body will be perfect.
THE HOPE OF CHRIST’S APPEARING
We do not know when this will be, but Jesus promised that He would come again and take us to be with Him. Following Jesus’ ascension, two angels assured His disciples that Jesus would come again in like manner as they saw Him go into heaven. The New Testament letters contain many references to Christ’s glorious appearing again.
THE HOPE OF A GLORIOUS CHURCH
In Ephesians 5: 25b-27 we read “Christ also loved the church and gave Himself for it; that he might sanctify and cleanse it with the washing of water by the word, that He might present it to Himself a glorious Church, not having spot or wrinkle, or any such thing; but that it should be holy and without blemish”. We know that Christ will only come for a pure spotless Bride, His Church.
I would encourage you to sit down sometime with your Bible and a concordance and look up references to hope. There are in excess of 120 of them. And I trust you will be blessed as you realize the certain hope that you have in God through Jesus.
I leave you with this thought: “Life without Christ is a hopeless end, but life with Christ is an endless hope”.